VATICAN CITY (CNS) — India’s Christians should be models of charity and patience, demonstrating tolerance for people of every religion, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“Even if he encounters opposition, the Christian’s own charity and forbearance should serve to convince others of the rightness of religious tolerance, from which the followers of all religions stand to gain,” the Pope told a group of bishops from India.

In a country with large Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian populations, individual Catholics must strive to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors, while the bishops lead the effort “to safeguard the fundamental human rights of freedom of religion and freedom of worship,” the Pope said May 16 at the end of the bishops’
ad limina visits to the Vatican.

The Pope did not mention the instances of violence that have plagued Christians in some parts of India over the past decade. And he did not specifically mention efforts in some states to make it illegal to encourage someone to convert.

Instead, he urged the bishops “to work patiently to establish the common ground necessary for the harmonious enjoyment” of the basic rights of freedom of conscience and worship.

Pope Benedict also told the bishop that in such a multireligious country, the Catholic Church needs solid religious educators who can “communicate with clarity and loving devotion the life-transforming beauty of Christian living and teaching, which will enable and enrich the encounter with Christ himself.”